05 March 2013

Estrogen and Neuronal Physiology, why am I sometimes irrational?

I came across this thought reawakening byway of a paper 'Acute effects of Estrogen on Neuronal Physiology' by Catherine S. Woolley, via the Department of Physiology at Northwestern University. This paper is largely the source of my researching all the facts they present in the paper and worth the read. As I am a woman, and thus invested, whom is also highly introspective, I can gauge my rationale disruptions literally around my estrus cycle, and as a thinker, I find it forever annoying that there is a clear variance sometimes in my ability for rational thought. SO, I decided to see what sort of information was available regarding this area and hormones effects on my oh so precious brain.

And oh what a fascinating journey it has become. I knew already that both the brain and ovaries produce estrogen, but have learned that the amazing temporary organ, the placenta, also produces estrogen as part of its function. Additionally, some types of estrogen in minute quantities are also produced in the liver, the adrenal glands, the breasts, and fat cells! Not only does estrogen, as well as testosterone, effect our sexual cycles and natures, along with androgens, but they do many other 'jobs' as well. Its effects spam mood, serotonin, breast cancer, promoting wound healing, and so on. But I digress... But, what of MY mind?

04 March 2013

Bios Urn - Be reborn as a Tree!!!

This wonderful innovation was put together with the minds of Martin Azua and Gerald Moline, unfortunately, their site is not is english, but nonetheless, I'm quite certain adaptations will take place in our red, white and blue neck. The product as is, is a biodegradable coconut shell, peat and cellulose, along with a tree seed of your choice, and, ahem, your remains.

Yes!!! Finally an afterlife I can get behind. Of course, being forever inquisitive my first thought was; but what exactly remains that a tree might be able to use? Followed by; is this legal? All the while quite convinced that I will be being planted as a tree no matter what.

In pursuit of my questions I discovered a number of things, cremation is a process of burning organic material, most of which dissipates, and the remaining chemicals include any metals we have amassed (lead, mercury, etc.) as well as phosphorus, carbon, and calcium (largely the remnants of bone only). This wonderful essay discusses the remnants far more knowledgeably than I. And Time also wrote an informative discussion on the topic as well.

I'm sold. Grow me up as a tree, let my yard be speckled with loved ones, let life be reborn instead of wasted in boxes-

20 February 2013

1500 Year Old Wine anyone?

Over at archeoblog, yet another fascinating exploration into the comings and goings of our human predecessors regarding the making of wine! (always a sell for a wine lover like me).

29 January 2013

Introducing, the Amazing Dictyostelid!

So, this week I read an awesome, stimulating book "Intelligence in Nature" by Jeremy Narby. All about the capacity of intelligence among animals and other life and what 'intelligence' actually is.

In the English language there are a few terms for mental capacity. Intelligence is used most commonly, followed by smart or smartness. Intelligence has different definitions - Webster says that intelligence is "the ability to learn or understand or to deal with new and trying situations, the ability to apply knowledge to manipulate one's environment or to think abstractly as measured by objective criteria" So, I assess, that intelligence is the capacity to store information for future use; use the information to analyze and decide; and to make self beneficial changes in the environment. This is only one version of a definition for a word, of course. The English word 'intelligence', comes from the Latin word 'intellegere' (to understand.) Intelligence has evolved to mean far more than understanding. Now its the ability to reason and think abstractedly and even complex computation (and a list of other attributes depending upon belief and specialities and opinion) Smart on the other hand, is more related to the ability to assess and decide.

18 June 2012

The perplexing world of memories

So, this week I've been reading 'I am a strange loop' by Douglas Hofstadter. It's all about the self and consciousness - the 'I'. It is a fascinating read that I am enjoying in my favorite manner, reading piece by piece as opposed to cover to cover. I have enjoyed a week of contemplating time and perception and this book is complimenting it all quite well.

This all got me thinking, about memory. The storage of time within brain matter, available for reflection for ~all time. Interesting. So, if we think and then store that information to later use in further thinking, we are essentially combining times for use in our now.

06 June 2012

Cytoskeleton, Cells Bones!!

Things are not always what they seem to be... sometimes, in our lives, the paths chosen are put into question. Sometimes, learning something new, clarifies our vision; makes us question things we thought of as fitting ~ cells are more interesting to me this week than atoms.

It's along this diversion of topic that I came across cellular structure; as another path calling my name had me reading publications on this topic, greatly to my dismay ~ as if, no matter what I know I should do, I can't do it- the other option is far to enticing.

A Cytoskeleton is like the structure of a cell, like 'bones'. These 'bones' are not solid and give the cell mobility and malleability among other things. A big difference from the basic idea of a cell being an encasing (I always imagine gelly like) with innards of floating components that do stuff (yes, that is exactly how I thought of it prior to reading these past two weeks) I never thought about the fact that cells move (thinking more in terms of a flow of liquid pushing the cells through the body - which is a childlike comprehension of both cells and cell mobility) But, now upon learning that cells actually have an internal formed structure allowing for malleability, I'm flabbergasted.

20 April 2012

Tardinrades, the original E.T. ?

Water bears, known formally as tardigrades, are speck-sized things, less than 1.5 millimeters long. The invertebrate creatures endured 10 days in space, and upon return to Earth, scientists found that even some of those exposed to solar radiation had made it through.

19 April 2012

Neanderthals ~ a life not unlike our own, explored

There has been a great deal of news about Neanderthals over the past few weeks. Firstly, I noticed a few articles on the Neanderthal diet and then it was the imagination inspiring National Geographic's special the Neanderthal Code that intrigued me. So, with interest and imagination bursting from the seams of my consciousness, I started dreaming. Dreaming of a day in which I could have said, Hi- to my fellow man... A day in which our people would not be able to boisterously exude superiority over all other life, as someone could have argued their case. I can feel the reality of a day when a fellow 'success of evolution' shared my path and was possibly so close an evolutionary cousin that we could have bred. It is so stimulating to read about Neanderthal's and their affiliation or integration with Homo sapiens. With each new discovery, more questions are raised. Thankfully, others are just as passionate and the information is beginning to flow. The Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology and 454 Life Sciences are the facilitators of the Neanderthal Gene sequencing project. ; Through the discovery of a rarely well preserved femur bone that was luckily full of wonderfully dense Neanderthal DNA, we may soon have more answers than we were looking for…

13 April 2012

Alcohol & Perception ~ Computing Fractions Naturally ~ Known Protein Found in New Profession

Interesting article from Scientific American about the affects of moderate alcohol on ones perception and the psychological aspects of behavior in social situations under these conditions.

Thought provoking article on the natural capacity of the mind to compute fractions.

An intriguing role for a well known protein has recently been discovered to have a significant effect on cognitive function; could lead to treatments for Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.


07 April 2012

Intelligence Among Species, White Brain Matter, Glial Cells

What do you think about when pondering the intellectual capacity of brains in other species? An article in Scientific American discusses how the brain of a Sperm Whale is larger than the brain of a Human; it is nearly five times the size of ours. Does size reflect intellectual capacity? Or, is it the complexity of the brain's structure? If it's complexity, how might you go about making judgments; perhaps through tests that might reflect activity or firing of neurons? hmmm.

I have thought on this significantly prior to reading this article . and have independently come to the conclusion that different species have different types of intelligence. Whereas our intelligence has lead to advances in our social applications; like communication and expression and we have the biological ability of fine motor skills; I think that other species have abilities and strengths that we lack. I certainly witness intellectual capacity in my two cats that after some affiliation is obvious. It is apparent in other species as well; like Elephants, Big Cats, Bears and Monkeys. Dogs have a social intelligence factor as well, in my opinion, in their abilities to interact so successfully.

But, past the assumptions and on to the facts; there are different ratios to take into account in this thought process; absolute size (or weight) and brain size vs. body size ratios. "The lemming. (Kicrostonyx groenlandicus), for example, has a higher ratio than man." American Naturalist. And, "The brain of a sperm whale is about 60% larger in absolute mass than that of an elephant. Furthermore, the brains of toothed whales and dolphins are significantly larger than those of any nonhuman primates and are second only to human brains when measured with respect to body size." Plos one.

08 March 2012

Mercury ~ Why the drama?

This weekend was wonderful. I enjoyed Saturday night in Boston at Improv Asylum on the North end, followed by unauthentic pizza that was deliciously greasy and ended at a nearby hookah bar with a glass of amaretto. It was fantastic. As I recently have been trying to legitimately heal an unstable relationship with the person I enjoyed this with, this was all particularly beneficial.

I know this has nothing to do with Mercury :)

Mercury; well, I know that a friend of mine, Eric, has a small jar of Mercury. He broke a bunch of thermometers as a teen and compiled the element into a rather impressively large blob of liquid metal. Very cool to look at and manipulate by rotating the jar.

Yes, I am aware now that I should not have been turning a jar of Mercury around in my palms, reveling is such a dangerously toxic element's beauty.

Mercury is interesting for numerous reasons. It is one of only six liquid metals and is the only one that remains a liquid at room temperature, which makes it uniquely variable in it's uses. Mercury was named after a planet, but it's chemical name is Hg which is derived from the Latin hydrargyrum (meaning watery & silver). It has one of the narrowest temperature ranges in it's liquid state and is worth discussing because it is a really beautiful element. cont...

21 January 2012

Children's Science Books - other than 'everyone poops'

Over at Cocktail Party Physics is an incredible list of children's science books anyone one with little people would just love!!!

I've Thought...

03.09 ~ I am but human, in my thoughts and desires- in my inconsistencies. It makes my opposing decisions no less real, no less quantitative... confusion is but the eye of truth, beckoning reason. ~ 03.12 ~ Time. It's existence is action progression, regression, reflection and projection. What in time is solidified and carried to another time is my choice. In one choice you lose all others; as an atom appreciates when the observer decides. It's a blue ocean of intrigue and a wave of contentment- that I am lost in, whilst, carried by. ~ 03.23 ~ That we are all part of one pulsing energy of life.. ~ 3.28 ~ There is no greater power, than the power of words. In speech we pass each other in halls, ride in elevators and embark in the great adventure that are words - with all of their beauty and intrigue. There are no wrong words spoken, only wrong interpretations and implications. Honest words are organic, true and expressions of what we are; existing autonomously and innocently, regardless of what others may think of them. 3.30 ~ That, the more I learn, the more I realize how little I know. It certainly doesn't help being in the company of those who have succeeded in accumulating far more knowledge than I. Is the differentiation between intelligence and knowledge simply the accumulation verses the ability to learn/understand? Or, are the two interchangeable. I feel as though time is passing faster than my ability to accumulate... do other people share this conundrum, I wonder... 4.02 ~ That, "It is what it is" isn't exactly accurate. "It is what I make it" is more so... 4.08 ~ That, "it's not time that matters... it's that mattering is what makes time." 4.12 ~ I watch and wonder... think and ponder... about it. Should I find that I have analyzed to much, to little; or that the quandary was all for not, I'll not know till the applicable time has passed.I hereby instill time as my guide, innocently and fully without disposition and without angst. (4.17) ~ Though random, we should not ignore paths crossed. Just as, we should not entirely exclude emotion from our conclusions. (4.26) ~ That I dispise my lack of control over my own intentions and wonder why I am so weak in this regard. (4.27) ~ That I have opened doors, I wished to open, while simultaniously putting other doors at risk of closing. It's not with resistance I contemplate, it's with anxiety. (4.28) That, I should take a break. Time to simply be, for a bit. (5.01) Its hunger drives decent of rational, a battle of wit and need. Like rain pouring down, wisped by winds, settled by gravity, I’m drawn to it ~ KAS